Dragon lost 1-0 to Amicale on Tuesday while Auckland comfortably beat home team Nadi 3-0 to top Group B and solidify their status as favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
Former K League player Daewook Kim made a strong contribution in his debut for the Navy Blues, scoring Auckland City's second goal after Joao Moriera's first, and on-form Emiliano Tade locked the victory in with a third just before half-time.
But a studs up tackle by Nadi striker Samuela Drudru on Tuesday means defender Angel Berlanga will be unable to suit up for the Navy Blues this afternoon.
Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx will have to re-think his back four in Berlanga's absence.
“We’ll recover and see how we shape up for the next game, obviously it looks like we’ve lost a player for the next match unfortunately.
“So just at the moment recover and then we’ll think about the next game,” he says.
His counterpart, Dragon coach Ludovic Graugnard, has been focusing on regrouping and refreshing his strategy.
Dragon will need to leave nothing in the tank after a disappointing first-half in the match led to an early goal by Amicale, eventually leading to their undoing.
“I think we need to recharge our batteries, mentally. When you lose the first match, and when you don’t have a lot of room for errors, mentally it becomes complicated. Now, the boys have to keep going, we need to breathe,” he says.
Dragon had a rare unbeaten record against the New Zealanders, earning a win and a draw from their two previous meetings.
“In terms of the game plan, we will watch Auckland’s match and see what that gives us in terms of how we can beat this team,” Graugnard says.
Amicale meets Nadi in the second match of the day at 4pm. With a solid performance and the desired result from his team, Amicale coach Nathan Hall is optimistic yet wary that Nadi will be keen to regain their home ground advantage.
“They've got home support and they'll be very, very motivated to probably lift another five to ten per cent to try and get three points in that match,” he says.
It is the first meeting for the two teams and Nadi coach Kamal Swamy has noted a key difference between the match against Auckland City and today's against Amicale.
“For Auckland City we had a game plan but for Amicale we’ll have a totally different one because they’re an island country and [have] island countries' players.
“There are a few Fijian players over there who we know very well. So we’ll work on a few areas and come up with a plan that can win us the match,” Swamy says.
Auckland and Amicale are top of Group B with three points apiece, while Dragon and Nadi are tied for last with zero points and zero goals.